|New York and San Francisco met on January 20, 1991 and Montana and Hostetler both took beatings that day. (Getty Images)|
By Ryan Wilson
On Sunday, the Giants face the 49ers in the NFC Championship game. Twenty-one years ago, these two teams faced off in the very same conference final, one the Giants would win, 15-13 (you can view the box score here). But as you'll see in the videos below, their brand of tackle football is virtually unrecognizable. There was no such thing at the Tom Brady rule or defenseless receivers or helmet-to-helmet hits, and defensive backs could mug would-be pass-catchers without penalty.
Still, there are plenty of familiar faces: Giants' defensive coordinator Bill Belichick, 49ers backup quarterback Steve Young, and of course Lawrence Taylor, Joe Montana and Jerry Rice. And there's even a cameo by a smack-talking Jon Bon Jovi.
"We're like guys from Jersey -- we drink beer out of cans, you know, and Budweiser. And we don't have cheerleaders and we don't have fancy stuff. We just know how to go down and make guys like Joe Montana feel sick." - a prophetic Jon Bon Jovi
Just about every hit in these seven minutes of footage would be illegal today. By our rough estimate, several players would've faced six-figure fines for this one game. And forget about monetary sanctions for Leonard Marshall. If he made that hit in today's NFL, he would've been promptly frog-marched off the field in handcuffs and thrown in the nearest jail without a trial.
Here's Montana talking about said collision:
After watching this we've come to several conclusions, including the most obvious: James Harrison was born 20 years too late.
"My ribs and chest hurt so bad that I didn't know my hand was broken," Montana said of Marshall's hit. "Normally when you get knocked out you can breathe a little bit of air out, but I couldn't even get a breath out. I was thinking, 'Oh god, I'm gonna die here.' Something is seriously wrong."
Brandon Jacobs might be tough by 2012 standards but we're guessing he'd want no part of this 1991 get-together.
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